Fact Check

Will US States Send Free Baby Formula if You Call Enfamil or Similac?

As the rumor goes, the baby formula brands will ship free six-packs of 12-ounce cans to people who call their customer service lines. But was it true?

Published May 18, 2022

 (Flickr / ajay_suresh)
Image Via Flickr / ajay_suresh
Claim:
People in the U.S. can receive free baby formula from their state government by calling the customer service numbers for Enfamil and Similac.

Fact Check

In May 2022, during a baby formula shortage in the United States, a rumor started circulating on social media that supposedly gave people an easy solution to the problem: Just call customer service lines of two baby formula brands, Enfamil and Similac.

The rumor claimed that people could simply call the phone numbers and tell whomever answered that they were having a hard time finding formula. The companies would then contact the state government where the caller resided, the rumor claimed, and the state would eventually send the caller a six-pack of 12-ounce cans. Here's the text of one popular Facebook post:

Hi moms! Due to the shortage of formula if you call enfamil or similac they will notify the state you can’t find any for your child and the state will send you a 6 pack of 12 Oz cans to your address ! For free!! hopefully the state has some to help out ! The shortage has gotten worse but it doesn’t hurt to call and ask! I hope this helps.
Enfamil customer service: 1-800-BABY123
Similac customer service: 1-800-515-7677

This rumor also spread on TikTok, where a video received more than tens of thousands views:

However, there was no truth to this rumor. People cannot obtain free formula from their state governments by calling the customer service lines of Enfamil and Similac.

We searched the websites and social media pages of both Enfamil and Similac and found no statements or news releases informing customers of this alleged method to obtain baby formula. We also found no news reports indicating that this was a genuine strategy to help meet people's needs during the shortage.

A spokesperson for Abbott, the company that makes Similac baby formula, told Politifact that there was no such process in place for people to call customer service about needing formula.

As of this writing, Enfamil had not commented on the rumor directly, but the company shared tips on Twitter for people seeking baby formula. Those tips did not include obtaining free formula from state governments by calling the company's customer service number.

Enfamil wrote on Twitter:

If you are struggling to locate your baby’s formula, here are some ways to help you:

Use our Store Locator daily to search online and in-store. We’ve updated the range of our Store Locator, allowing you to check availability within a 200-mile radius of your zip code. [...]

Talk to local store managers. They may be able to share the days they receive inventory.

Check with your pediatrician for available samples or promotions. [...]

This false rumor mirrored a claim that circulated in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, in March 2020. In that instance, instead of state governments supposedly shipping out free formula, a viral meme made it seem like the companies themselves would meet callers' needs. At that time, Enfamil said: "Contrary to rumors in some online social networks, we are not distributing free cases of formula."

The rumor about calling customer service lines for Enfamil and Similac was not the only piece of purported advice that social media users shared during the 2022 baby formula shortage. A similar rumor claimed that American parents could obtain baby formula by simply switching their location settings on Amazon to Canada. This "life hack," however, didn't work.

Other rumors have focused on the causes of the baby formula shortage, with some people misleadingly claiming that U.S. President Joe Biden's administration exasperated the shortage by shipping formula to one or more detention facilities on the U.S.-Mexico border. This claim was sorely lacking context. You can read about the real causes of the baby formula shortage here.

Sources:

“Fact-Check: Is the Biden Administration Prioritizing Sending Baby Formula to the Border?” Austin American-Statesman, https://www.statesman.com/story/news/politics/politifact/2022/05/17/fact-checking-greg-abbott-claim-baby-formula-and-border/9793004002/. Accessed 18 May 2022.

Shaw, Amanda. “Hacks, Fails and Swaps: What You Need to Know about the Baby Formula Shortage.” Https://Www.Foxcarolina.Com, https://www.foxcarolina.com/2022/05/16/hacks-fails-swaps-what-you-need-know-about-baby-formula-shortage/. Accessed 18 May 2022.

Similac Vs Enfamil: Baby Formula Comparison Chart | Enfamil. https://www.enfamil.com/baby-formula-comparison-chart/. Accessed 18 May 2022.

Washington, District of Columbia 1800 I. Street NW and Dc 20006. “PolitiFact - No, You Can’t Get Free Baby Formula from Your State by Calling These Numbers.” @politifact, https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/may/17/facebook-posts/no-you-cant-get-free-baby-formula-your-state-calli/. Accessed 18 May 2022.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.

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